Friday, October 26, 2012

Base Camp Pfeifferhorn

When I started this blog a few years back I thought it was all about sharing and showing great backcountry tours in the Wasatch. It seems I was wrong. Looking back at the posts, most of them are dry land! That’s because I get all excited about the upcoming season as I train in the pre-season and in between the training sessions I still have enough time to blog. In the winter on the other hand, tours are great and wonderful and pretty long and all that skiing takes time away from blogging, as it absolutely should. So this year I am going to do things differently: I will in the fall share and show great backcountry tours from the prior year(s). Of course I am talking here about tours that never had been posted yet.
I am starting here with one of my absolute favorites in the Wasatch: Overnight tour at the Pfeifferhorn. My buddy Mike Florence and I had done our fair share of annual pilgrimages to the Pfeifferhorn because it is such an aesthetic area and summit in addition to having unlimited exceptionally good skiing. One day early in the season my Mike and I decided that this time around we needed more time on site and so we would camp right there and wake up in paradise! We decided to camp in Maybird gulch on top of a treed knoll that we had identified as a potentially good, safe and protected base camp. After going through route definition, equipment lists etc, we left in the am on Thursday, April 3rd of 2008 with about 60 Lbs. on our backs.

Trail head: White Pine parking lot (elevation 7,650 feet). This is about 5 1/2 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon from the Y-Junction and 3/4 mile below Snowbird Ski Resort on the right hand sides of the road. Watch out it’s easy to miss!

Summit: 11,326 feet

Equipment: Skis, ski-crampons, crampons & Ice Axe (and of course the ever present Whippet).

The tour: We started at a comfortable 7 am knowing we would not be too pressed for time on the mountain. From the White Pine parking lot we skied down to the bridge crossing the creek and then followed the obvious trail to the right. We very early left White Pine Canyon, and crossed over into Red Pine Gulch at about 8,000 feet or so. Here we decided to not follow the regular summer route up past Red Pine Lake but instead continue west and cross into Maybird Gulch at about 8,700 feet and from there proceed to the treed knoll at about 10,700 feet to establish camp. We were done at about 11 am and had the rest of the day to explore and ski. This was a fairly stormy day with some snow and a lot of wind particularity on the ridge lines  We skinned up to the ridge line between Maybird and Red Pine and skied that, then across Maybird (heading West) to the Obelisk and skied back from there to camp as the weather was not improving. Luckily for us everything calmed completely down by the evening and by the time we were cooking the wind was gone and the skies were blue! We woke up in the morning to the same spectacular conditions, skinned up towards the Pfeiff as far is we could and then continued on crampons to the top. Here are the pictures of the tour (click to enlarge).

Starting the long heavy slog...

Getting up to the Maybird/Red Pine ridge line after having set up camp.

Mike on top of the ridge line in the storm (this is one guy that knows how to suffer in silence).

Things to come...
Across and over to the other ridge line (Maybird/Hogum) and here is Mike
at  the obelisk.  The top of the Pfeifferhorn  is  behind in the clouds. 
...and I was there too...
Back to camp in the kitchen.
Mike presiding over "base camp".

Next morning is a glorious one indeed with this immediate access to the Pfeifferhorn.
When the skins won't do it anymore, crampon up...
...and up...

Mike on top of the Pfeiff and the world...

View into Hogum Fork
We are gnats in the land of giants... (click to enlarge) 
Tasty lines off the ridge to the Pfeiff
Magic surroundings, majestic peaks, unlimited skiing and friends: The meaning of life!
A last look behind before it's back to camp...

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